Wednesday 13 December 2017

Time for Cardiff revenge mission

Bundee Aki celebrates Connacht’s historic victory over Munster in Thomond Park last Saturday with John Muldoon (left)
Bundee Aki celebrates Connacht’s historic victory over Munster in Thomond Park last Saturday with John Muldoon (left)

John Fallon

Connacht certainly won't have to dig deep to find motivating factors for this evening's clash with Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

Having finally won for the first time in the professional era in Thomond Park, Connacht now head to a city where they have been victorious just twice in 13 visits, in addition to heading to the venue where they suffered their record league defeat.

There have been few defeats which have rankled as much as this corresponding fixture last season when Cardiff Blues scored a highly controversial try in the dying moments to win 18-17 last March.

Connacht went into the game looking for a third win in a row but the loss was followed with just one victory in the remaining five league games.

The Arms Park was the venue for Connacht's first-ever Celtic League match when they scored a 6-3 win way back on 18th August 2001.

But Connacht have managed to win in Cardiff just once since then in a dozen visits. Two of those ties were played at Cardiff City Stadium but the home side continue to prevail.

Connacht fell to a record 58-0 defeat at the Arms Park on 2008 - that is also Cardiff's biggest win - and it wasn't until February 2013 that the westerners finally came out on top on a 26-22 scoreline.

John Muldoon, who becomes the first player to make 200 league appearances this evening, and Eoin McKeon are the only two in the starting line-up from that win to play from the outset in this one.

Loosehead prop Ronan Loughney was among the replacements on that occasion, while Kieran Marmion, on the bench this evening, started at scrum-half in that win when a brace of tries from Willie Faloon was decisive.

Connacht coach Pat Lam said there is no danger of them under-estimating Cardiff this season, despite the home side going into the match on the back of a seven-game losing run in the league, while the leaders arrive with six straight wins keeping them top of the table.

"Any team like that are desperate to do anything to win. And so if we open that door and give them that opportunity there is no doubt they will take it. We need to be focused and concentrate on having our own structures right," warned Lam.



Challenge now for the team is to cope with favourite's tag and kick on for

the play-offs


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